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President Wilson's declarations may be summarized thus: "We have entered into the war in order to free the world from slavery and to do justice to humanity. To those aims we shall adhere." We have no doubt that President Wilson will so act, not because he possesses the strength to do so, but because he has right on his side and the -will of the peoples behind him.
Strong in the righteousness of their cause, the Albanians have never despaired of its ultimate triumph. Whether the Albanian question be regarded from the point of view of justice or from the political point of view for the sake of the peace of the Balkans, and therefore of Europe, there can be but one solution— the restoration of the Albanian state -within its ethnographical limits.
The Albanian race, which has had the strength to resist the storms of centuries and preserve its physical vigor and its spirit of independence, cannot now, in the twentieth century, submit to live in slavery, still less to disappear.
MEMORANDUM SUBMITTED BY THE
The Albanian Peace Delegation which was appointed by the Provisional Government of Albania, reached Paris at the beginning of February, and on the I2th of the same month presented the Albanian claims to the Peace Conference. Since then it has been received and heard many a time by the Supreme Council of Ten and by the Committee on Greek territorial claims. The Memorandum published below is an authorized translation from the original text, which is in French.
The Albanian nation presents itself before the' Peace Conference, sustained by that ideal force which has rendered invincible the armies of the liberal nations and which has overthrown the arms of their enemies; it comes before the Peace Congress full of confidence that the principle of nationality shall receive a complete application, thanks to the spirit of equity that inspires the eminent men assembled in Congress.
The Albanian race, the most ancient of the Balkans, has been able to preserve its national identity, its spirit of liberty and independence, despite the periodical invasions of which Albania has, through the course of centuries, been the theater.
After more than four centuries of foreign domination, barely called to independent life, and struggling with the difficulties that are inherent to the renascence of peoples, Albania was surprised by the world's war. Her neutrality, which had been guaranteed by the great Powers, was violated by the belligerent armies and, like Belgium, Albania was made to acquaint herself with all the horrors of invasion.
Groaning under the heel of the invader, the Albanian people did not, nevertheless, fail in their duty toward the Entente, which had proclaimed to the entire world that she was fighting for the principle of nationality and the rights of peoples. Forgetting the outrages and horrors committed in Albania only a year before, the Albanians deemed it their duty to succor the remnants of the Serbian armies during their retreat through Albania. It is averred, in fact, that these remnants, tired and exhausted, lacking arms and food, could never have reached the shores of the Adriatic Sea if the Albanians had bent their ear to the exhortations of Austria, instead of obeying their pro-Entente sentiments as well as their chivalrous traditions.
Albania, though invaded, subjugated and devastated, was founding her hopes on the friendly armies of the Entente which were gaining a foothold in Macedonia and in the southern Albanian provinces, and her sons were hastening to range themselves by the side of the armies of liberty and to participate in the battles which were taking place in the Balkan Peninsula against the Central Empires. Had they been accorded the same support and the same facilities that have been accorded to other nations, the Albanians would have risen as one man and taken up arms with the same enthusiasm which was shown by their brethren who had enlisted under the flags of the Entente, a great number of whom have fallen on the field of honor. Nevertheless, they did everything within their power to render difficult the task of the enemy, by throwing obstacles in the way of his provisionment, and by hindering, for a long period of time, the establishment of connections detrimental to the Entente which a Balkan state was striving to tie up, through Albania, with the command of the enemy. And when the Allies resolved upon taking the offensive in the Balkans, the Albanians rose up against the Austrian troops, facilitating thus the advance into Albania of the troops of the Entente which were always preceded by Albanian contingents.
Happy to have offered this modest tribute to the cause of liberty, the Albanians come today to submit their just claims, with full confidence, to the High Tribunal of the world.
An equitable solution cannot be given to the territorial problems in the Balkan Peninsula except on the condition that each state may bring together within its limits the regions where the elements of its race form the majority of the population. It is in the fact that this principle has not been respected with regard to Albania that the Albanians find, and with reason, the cause of their misfortunes and of their sufferings.
The principles of equilibrium and of status quo, which served as bases for the Congresses of the past, could but be fatal to Albania, a country without defense and coveted by its neighbors, Greeks and Slavs, who were supported by powerful protectors.